June 1: an auspicious date, to be sure. For 'twas on such date that Madison asked Congress to declare war on the UK. Then, precisely 155 years later, Sgt. Pepper was released. And now, in 2006, June 1 is to be the deadline for the submission of abstracts of papers for this year's Classification Research Workshop. The workshop is organized annually by the Special Interest Group on Classification Research (SIG/CR) of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), as a preliminary to ASIS&T's main Annual Meeting. This year, it's taking place in Austin, TX, on November 4, and the theme is to be social classification. Y'know: tagging, folksonomies, and whatnot. So, dear Dewey blog reader, sharpen your pencil and get cracking on your 500-word masterpiece. There's only ninety days to go! Here's the full call for papers in all its glory.
SOCIAL CLASSIFICATION: PANACEA OR PANDORA?
The aims of this year’s Classification Research Workshop are to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners, and users to share their knowledge, perspectives, and opinions on social classification (SC), and (in the form of the proceedings) to make a lasting and authoritative contribution to our understanding of the benefits that SC-based systems may provide. Papers on any aspect of the conceptualization and/or evaluation of social classification are invited for presentation at the workshop and publication in the open-access, peer-reviewed proceedings.
Social classification is a convenient, generic label that may be used to refer to any of a number of broadly related processes by which the resources in a collection are categorized by multiple people over an ongoing period, with the potential result that any given resource will come to be represented by a set of labels or descriptors that have been generated by different people. The specific processes in question include indexing, tagging, bookmarking, annotation, and description of the kinds that may be characterized as collaborative, cooperative, distributed, dynamic, community-based, folksonomic, wikified, democratic, user-assigned, or user-generated. The mid-2000s have seen rapid growth in levels of interest in these kinds of technique for generating descriptions of resources for the purposes of discovery, access, and retrieval. Systems that provide automated support for social classification may be implemented at low cost, and are perceived to contribute to the democratization of classification by empowering people who might otherwise remain strictly information consumers to become information producers.
Efforts to conduct serious evaluations of the comparative effectiveness of such systems have begun, but results are scattered and piecemeal. Compared with retrieval systems based on traditional methods -- manual or automatic -- of classifying resources, how effectively are users of SC-based systems able to find the resources that they want? What is the impact on retrieval effectiveness of systems designers’ decisions to pay limited attention to traditionally important components such as vocabulary control, facet analysis, and systematic hierarchical arrangement? Current implementations of SC tend to shy away, for instance, from imposing the kind of vocabulary control on which classification schemes and thesauri are conventionally founded: proponents argue that social classifiers should be free, as far as possible, to supply precisely those class labels that they believe will be useful to searchers in the future, whether or not those labels have proven useful in the past. But do the advantages that are potentially to be gained from allowing classifiers free rein in the choice of labels outweigh those that may be obtainable by imposing some form of vocabulary and authority control, or by offering browsing-based interfaces to hierarchically structured vocabularies, by establishing and complying with policies for the specificity and exhaustivity of sets of labels, and by other devices that are designed to improve classifier--searcher consistency?
Other questions arise as a result of the reliance of SC-based systems on volunteer labor. Given the distributed nature of SC, for example, how can it be ensured that every resource attracts a critical mass of descriptors, rather than just the potentially-quirky choices of a small number of volunteers? Given the self-selection of classifiers, how can it be ensured that they are motivated to supply class labels that they would expect other searchers to use? In general, are reductions in the costs of classification (borne by information producers) achieved only at the expense of increases in the costs of resource discovery (borne by consumers)?
Abstracts (500-1000 words) of papers should be submitted to both workshop co-chairs by JUNE 1, 2006. Authors will be notified of the program committee’s decision by JULY 1, 2006. Full papers (3000-5000 words) should be submitted to both workshop co-chairs by SEPTEMBER 1, 2006. The workshop will be held on NOVEMBER 4, 2006, as part of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) in Austin, TX. It will be the 17th in a series of annual workshops organized by ASIS&T’s Special Interest Group on Classification Research. Workshop co-chairs: Jonathan Furner, Assistant Editor, Dewey Decimal Classification, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., Washington, DC; Joseph Tennis, Assistant Professor, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.